The Pittsburgh Steelers
have just clinched the 2008-2009 AFC Division Championship with a 23-14 victory over
longtime rivals, the
For those of you who do not know the true story
For verification of what I'm about to relay, check out Myron Cope’s last book, Double Yoi. There, Myron details the creation (the media keeps referring to it as an “invention,” which is off the mark). Here's the story:
In December 1975, Myron Cope, Larry Garrett (former WTAE General Sales Manager),
and I met in Garrett's office to brainstorm a playoff promotion. (Keep in mind that the Steelers of the 1970s
were phenomenal; between 1975 and 1980, they won four Super Bowls!) My original
idea was to buy 50,000 Lone Ranger masks to pass out at the game (Stealers, get
it?), but it was cost prohibitive (15 cents each). Larry then suggested that we
go for something that everybody already had ... like a rag or a towel to wave.
Myron jumped right in, saying it had to be gold or black and then said, for the
first utterance EVER, "we can call it the Terrible Towel." Garrett and
I just looked at each another. Terrible, in this instance, according to Myron's
rationale, was a good thing. It would be a terrible omen for the opposition. We
ran with it, and for a full week, Myron plugged the idea on his nightly radio
show and on WTAE TV. Credit Larry Garrett for the towel idea and Myron for
naming it. I was just a spectator in that slice of life.
Garrett and I remained somewhat skeptical but bought a bunch of gold towels (there was no lettering on them back then) to pass out to staff members in the WTAE box at the game. It was a bitterly cold day, and driving to the game, I was a little depressed to note crowds heading into the stadium with nary a towel in sight. However ....
As the team was introduced on the field, from under parkas and overcoats, there was an unbelievable sight. Estimates have it that over 30,000 fans whipped out towels and began waving them. As I watched Myron in the broadcast booth, I thought he was going to fall out the front. (Myron was the color analyst on radio and was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2005. As many of you know, Myron passed away last February.) And when Steelers’ Wide Receiver, Lynn Swann, ran out of the tunnel waving a gold towel, the crowd went crazy. Just a great, great moment! And, thus, the Terrible Towel was born and lives large to this day. By the way ... the Steelers won that playoff game.
Over the past 34 years, the Towel has generated enormous sums and was sanctioned by the Steelers and the NFL with official lettering and an NFL trademark tag to help avoid counterfeits. Some years back, Myron donated most rights to the Towel to Allegheny Valley School
This past Friday, I was interviewed by Dan Torisky of the Society as to exactly how it all happened. ESPN cable will be in town tomorrow and Wednesday for further insight on the story of the Terrible Towel, to run between now and the Super Bowl.
Just thought you'd like to hear the story in total and perhaps share it with your Steelers friends. After all, Steelers Nation folk are all across America
Have a great week. GO STEELERS!!!
Thanks, Ted, for sharing another great story! Cassie
*Ted Atkins aka Capt. Showbiz
KLAK [Denver CO] 1957
KCKN [Kansas City KS] 1958
KUDL [Kansas City] 1959
WHB [Kansas City MO] 1960
KIMN [Denver] 1961
KDAB [Denver] 1962
KBTR [Denver] 1964
KIMN [Denver] 1965
WOL [Washington DC] 1967
CKLW [Detroit MI] 1968
KFRC [San Francisco CA] 1969
KHJ [Los Angeles CA] 1970
KIIS [LA] 1973
WTAE [Pittsburgh PA] 1973 - GM
KROY [Sacramento CA] 1985 - Owner
WWSW/WWSW-FM [Pittsburgh] 1989 - GM
WMXP [Pittsburgh] 1992 - Brokered O'Brien & Garry show.